Distance Learning in Postsecondary Career and Technical Education: A Comparison of Achievement in Online vs. On-Campus CTE Courses

Publication August 2004

This study builds on a recent national survey that determined the current status and future trends associated with distance learning in postsecondary career and technical education (Johnson, et al., 2003). The primary goal of this study was to explore, in detail, the effectiveness of distance learning via the Internet as a strategy for providing skill-based education and training to students enrolled in postsecondary career and technical education (CTE). Emphasis in this study was placed on (a) examining the differences between online and campus-based delivery models in terms of student achievement (i.e., assessment of content knowledge gain and the quality of student assignments and projects) and (b) describing the course structure and environment created to help students gain CTE skills. The study also compared variables such as interaction within the course, course structure, and student support across the two different course delivery formats. To accomplish the research goals, a series of quasi-experimental studies were designed using equivalent online and campus-based CTE courses that varied only in their delivery format. The combination of the earlier national survey of distance learning in postsecondary CTE programs and these experimental comparison studies help to establish a baseline for distance and online technology use and practice in postsecondary career and technical education. These studies enable researchers, practitioners, and policy makers to make informed decisions about future trends and uses of distance learning in postsecondary CTE.

Benson, A. D., Johnson, S. D., Taylor, G. D., Treat, T., Shinkareva, O. N., & Duncan, J. (2004, August). Distance learning in postsecondary career and technical education: A comparison of achievement in online vs. on-campus CTE courses. St. Paul, MN: National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, University of Minnesota.

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